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Saturday 23.06.2018 | Name days: Līga

RIM launches new BlackBerry 10 line

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Research In Motion Ltd unveiled the long-delayed line of smartphones it hopes will put it on the comeback trail on Wednesday, January 30, but it disappointed investors by saying U.S. sales of its all-new BlackBerry 10 will start only in March.

Chief Executive Thorsten Heins also announced that RIM was abandoning the name it has used since its inception in 1985 to take the name of its signature product, signaling his hopes for a fresh start for the company that pioneered on-your-hip email.

RIM, which is already starting to call itself BlackBerry, had initially planned to launch the new BlackBerry 10 smartphones in 2011. But it pushed the date back twice as it struggled to work with a new operating system, Reuters reported.

RIM launched its first BlackBerry back in 1999 as a way for busy executives to stay in touch with their clients and their offices, and the Canadian company quickly cornered the market for secure corporate and government email. But its star faded as competition rose. The BlackBerry is now a far-behind also-ran in the race for market share, with a 3.4 percent global showing in the fourth quarter, down from 20 percent three years before. RIM shares tumbled along with the company’s market share, and the stock is down 90 percent from its 2008 peak.

The BlackBerry 10 devices boast fast browsers, new features, smart cameras and, unlike previous BlackBerry models, enter the market primed with a large application library, including services such as Skype and the popular game Angry Birds.

The Telegraph’s Matt Warman writes that millions of Britons still use BlackBerry. It remains the UK’s third most popular smartphone platform, shored up at first by young people being given their parents’ phones and latterly by cheap devices that were affordable for millions.

But a rash of bad publicity accelerated a nosedive, and not everyone thinks the company has done enough this week to pull out of it. From a murder at a BlackBerry-sponsored concert to the use of the company’s BBM messenger software by those involved in the London riots, it seemed that for a while BlackBerry’s luck was even worse than Nokia’s. Aware that it was falling behind, the company had bought a whole new operating system but was repeatedly forced to announce delays. Its co-founders left the front line of the business.

The Z10 is a touchscreen device, while the Q10 retains the famous keyboard that has built much of BlackBerry’s growth. At the heart of both of the devices is a new operating system, called BlackBerry 10, that combines a work persona with a personal mobile in a single device. The idea is that while a single interface allows you to see, say, your work and your home calendar, in fact the two separate things are completely segregated. If you select work, the photos you take with the BB10 camera are stored in a different place to those you take with it in personal mode.

As Jan Dawson of analysts Ovum puts it, BB10 is a help for RIM, but it will not provide salvation. Like many, he argues that RIM has left it too late, no matter how good its software is.

This isn’t helped by the fact that for a decade BlackBerry was the phone given to users by their IT department if they were lucky. But increasingly users in fact buy their own devices and then make them work for business, whether IT departments want it or not. And that is where BlackBerry loyalty remains: with companies around the world locked in to BlackBerry Enterprise Service, the company will continue to thrive in some scenarios.

It looks a long way from being a brand that individual buyers will seek out, however. Even, according to Wood, those users who demand a physical keyboard are not sufficient to save BlackBerry.

Dawson agrees. “Our recent surveys suggest that even when employees aren’t choosing the device, they expect the replacement for their current BlackBerry to be an iPhone or an Android device.”

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